Lords of the Fallen (PC) Review

By Athanasios 03.12.2014

Review for Lords of the Fallen on PC

The characterisation of Lords of the Fallen as Dark Souls-lite doesn't do justice to the game and has led to an unfair amount of hatred towards it, usually from those expecting an identical clone of the Souls series, something completely misguided. While clearly inspired by that franchise and also a lot less challenging than it, it's a whole different thing. Undoubtedly far - very far, in fact - from perfection, yet through its emphasis in a more realistic approach to fighting, decent blend of action and role-playing, and stunning visuals, it turns out to be quite the fantasy ride.

Harkyn, a mysterious criminal, enters a war-ravaged fortress, along with his liberator, a monk named Kaslo. Initially there will be little-to-no information about what's going on, leaving the player to enjoy a bit of exploration and learning of the basics. The controls, although a tad different than usual, are very good and the in-game tips quite helpful. Wandering around leads to a lot of impressive scenery to stare at, but no matter how pretty it all looks, the part where Lords of the Fallen truly shines is the battlefield. Take heed, though; button-mashers are not welcome.

All confrontations demand absolute concentration on the task. The battle system may seem way too slow and clunky to those accustomed to the much faster hack 'n' slash titles; the correct description, though, is slow and methodical. Anything less than a careful and strategic way of playing equals suicide, especially when most enemies are large, imposing, metal-clad beasts that wield giant axes and tower shields. A quick back-stab, right after avoiding a giant cleaver swing, gives a fulfilling sense of achievement, unrivalled by most games out there, but unfortunately, although fighting is the best aspect here, it is also where most problems reside in.

Screenshot for Lords of the Fallen on PC

While great, the controls occasionally fail to respond correctly. Locking on to an enemy sometimes "refuses" to act like it's supposed to, especially when dealing with multiple targets. This happens for only two to three seconds, but for a title as demanding as this, that is unforgivable. Furthermore, there is a balance issue regarding enemy behaviour; although they are supposed to use stamina like Harkyn, draining it with every move and having to wait for it to recharge before doing anything else, they actually seem to have an unlimited supply, meaning that they will be battle-ready no matter what, lowering the realism of it all.

Comparisons with Dark Sous are meaningless. This is a tough game, but it will rarely "torture" players. Bosses, for example, while awesome, sometimes leave a "Huh! That's all?" kind of feeling. In fact, one is more likely to die from the camera going bonkers in the way-too-many narrow corridors, rather than from a relentless opponent. A risk/reward system makes up for it, since instead of playing it safe, one can avoid checkpoints and keep moving on, raising XP gain with each kill, as well as the chances for better loot-drops. Dying resets this multiplier and leaves behind the gathered XP in the form of a "soul," which, if not reached in time, (and without dying), is lost forever.

Screenshot for Lords of the Fallen on PC

After some well-earned XP is gained, it can be used to "buy" attribute and skill improvements. The role-playing is simple, yet it allows a decent amount of versatility in character builds. Once can focus in defence, offense, speed, magic or any combination between those. Note that instead of classes there are three starting gear to choose from - warrior, rogue, cleric; however, this doesn't restrict anyone from changing equipment throughout this journey. Additionally, there are three magic "schools," specialised in those three equipment types, but once again, hybrid characters are possible.

A decent amount of weaponry and armour can be found, but they aren't anything special. Some offer more slots to place shards in - changing their stats or behaviour - or a couple of stronger magic resistances. For the most part, though, it's just a matter of selecting the strongest, lightest or sturdiest one, depending on one's needs. Most items can be found through exploration, which is a simple matter of finding keys to open doors, with the occasional breakable wall or semi-hidden lever breaking the monotony. Missions are way better, since there is absolutely no hand-holding, giving people a vague idea of what must be done and making the whole exploration aspect a lot better.

Screenshot for Lords of the Fallen on PC

By far, the most underdeveloped part is the plot (or lack of), which always feels like it scratches the surface of something great, but never quite shows it. A bunch of short-but-sweet scattered notes offer a glimpse of this world's history and the nature of the demons known as the Rhogar, but this isn't enough. Harkyn and the rest of the crew start out as quite promising, but never leave their one-dimensional personalities. Even the bosses and the evil dude behind it all look interesting, but end up being just a bunch of bad guys that must be crashed, unlike Dark Souls, which builds up tension before each boss encounter by offering a bit of well-written lore.

After the only-slightly-harder-than-usual boss fight, what else is there to do? It's not exactly a long trip, so it ought to have something more to give, right? Well, there is a New Game+ and after that, a New Game++, both offering a higher challenge and a couple of other stuff, but nothing exactly ground-breaking. Creating a different character raises the replay value quite a bit, but even this can't help Lords of the Fallen become something more than just a fairly good game, which had the potential but didn't really use it. Deck13 promised a trilogy, though, so hopefully they'll learn from their mistakes and bring forth something truly spectacular.

Screenshot for Lords of the Fallen on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Lots of fun and challenging gameplay await those that will embark on a journey that pays tribute to the Souls series, adding some new, subtle twists into the mix. However, the most appropriate description one could give to this otherwise great action-RPG would be "close, but no cigar… very close that is." The gameplay is entertaining, but lacks that extra something that would make it truly remarkable. The next-gen graphics are awesome, yet imaginative environments are a rarity and so is variety in enemy design. Finally, it always feels like there is a great plot underneath it all, which was never exploited as it should. Is Lords of the Fallen a bad game? Not at all… but it's not a must-have, either.

Developer

City Interactive

Publisher

City Interactive

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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